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Monday, October 18, 2010

Wild Texas Guajillo Honey

A few years ago I visited my friends Robert and Monique in Houston, Texas and while I was there I picked up some wild Texas Guajillo (gwah-HEE-yoh) honey. I had no idea what kind of plant Guajillo is. A quick look online and I found out it is a wild desert bush (described as a medium sized shrub that can grow larger in some cases) with prickles that is a member of the acacia plant family, and is native to Southwestern Texas and Northern Mexico. It has white flowers that bloom from November to April, but mostly in March and April.

Apparently settlers in Uvalde County (southwest of Austin) in the 1870s discovered caves and hollow trees full of this honey. They capitalized on their find and soon became famous for producing and shipping honey all over the world. In 1900 (a good year for the settlers come apiculturalists), Uvalde County produced over 160,000 pounds of Guajillo honey and took first place at the Paris World's Fair (presumably for honey). In the region honey now figures in their folklore- with tales of bee-caves guarded by rattlesnakes and ghosts that have rooms filled with honey in pure white combs that are thirty feet thick. Wow. This I would like to see. Uvalde County seems like my kind of place. I'm surprised I've never heard of it before.

One site I found that sells Guajillo honey warns that: 'Guajillo honey is a light golden color. It it's dark... it ain't true Guajillo.' Consider yourself warned and be wary of all those who claim that their dark honey is the real thing.

The Guajillo honey I have is indeed a light golden color (so far, so good). And it comes in a very nice glass jar. Native Nectar out of San Antonio packages the honey I have. The site says that the honey is "bottled in a one pound Italian green glass jar, which is in the shape of an ancient Etruscan olive oil vessel." I'll give them this- the jar and presentation are one of the best I've seen for honey (and I've seen a lot of honey). Texans don't do things half way.

My honey has crystallized a little in the few years that I've had it but it still retains it light, golden color. The smell has an undertone of caramel. It is a very clear, runny honey in its liquid form. It has a very simple, light and delicate flavor with a very subtle (very subtle) flowery undertone. It is sweet but not overly sweet and has no hint of bitterness or any other strong flavor. The after taste is no different from the first taste. I think I was expecting something different- what with the green, glass jar in the shape of an ancient Etruscan olive oil vessel and the story of bee-caves guarded by ghosts (and having won first place at the 1900 Paris World's Fair). I think I was expecting something really unusual. This is not to say it isn't a good honey- it has a nice, simple flavor and a good, clear, smooth texture. It would be very nice in tea.

If anyone is interested and you are too far from Texas to get some locally, I found it for sale online at this site, but I think there is a typo in the price:

http://www.thunderheartbison.com/content/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=12&category_id=2&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=5&vmcchk=1&Itemid=5

2 comments:

  1. Several years ago, Readers Digest did a story on honey and scored Huajilla as the sweetest of all honeys. I was fortunate to have been raised on a ranch inUvlde Country, just 10 miles south of Sabinal(Cypress). The Anchor S Shudde ranch was the home built by the father of E.G.Shudde, one of many German immigrants who moved to Texs in the late 1800s. The Guajillao or Huajilla is different than any other honey best proven by the bees themselves. Huahilla honey is not mixed with other kinds of honey in the comb..just to maintain its" specialness" to feed the queen bee for laying the bee "eggs". It is almost clear...as it has not be mixed . When we extracted the honey we never mixed it with other honey..and we shipped all over thed world. We had several hundred hives on the far side of the ranch but when I returned fromthe navy in 1950..there were only few left...tje victims of aircraft spraying of DDT on nearby fields. Gerry Shudde and his sons still run the ranch..but little huajilla honey I'm afraid. Barney Jones, Harare, Zimbabwe.

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    1. Thanks for the added information - very interesting! I'm sorry to hear that the Shudde ranch isn't producing huajilla honey as much as it used to. Our loss!

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